Cardio or Strength Training: Which Comes First?

Starting an exercise program can be challenging and bring about a lot of questions. The internet provides a ton of information, some of which may be conflicting and lead to more questions. When starting an exercise program, many of my clients ask me if the order of their workout matters; meaning should you be performing cardio exercise (running, biking, swimming etc.) first or be starting with strength training exercises.

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Cardio then strength or strength then cardio?
Science says either way is fine!

Plenty of research has been done in this area, and while some online resources may tell you to do one before the other (maybe to maximize your calorie burn), the truth is it doesn’t matter. I always recommend that my clients start with whichever form of exercise they find to be most challenging because your body hasn’t used any of its energy stores yet. If running is going to be the hardest part of the workout, start there and finish with your strength training routine. Maybe you are trying to incorporate more resistance exercise into your weekly schedule, so starting there will make sure you complete it.

Ultimately, it comes down to what your goals are and how you want to structure your workout. If you are training for a race, then aerobic exercise will take priority. If the strength training circuit at the gym is your new challenge, start with a warm-up then focus on completing that circuit before riding the bike. This will allow your body to have the energy it needs for your main target. Take note that any sort of skilled lifts or long training runs should be done on their own days; trying to perform barbell snatches after a 30 minute run may not be the best plan.

It is also important that you are getting enough of both types of exercise each week! Below are the recommended exercise guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine:

Cardiorespiratory Exercise

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
  • Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
  • People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.

Strength Training Exercise

  • Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
  • Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
  • Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions of the same muscle group.

The full list of Physical Activity Guidelines can be found here! Including flexibility and neuromuscular activity guidelines.

The most important piece to this puzzle is to remember why you started- stay focused on your goals and trust the process. Have an exercise question? Ask us in the comments below or email us at burpeesandbordeaux@gmail.com 🙂

❤ Louise

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